End of block 2: Teaching with Data

The transition from learning with data to teaching with data was not smooth for me. Having taught in higher education for a couple of years I believed it would be like a ride in the park but it was far from my expectations.

This block exposed me to a variety of concepts and made me question most elements of modern teaching from a more critical perspective. The three visualizations produced in this block were not particularly designed from the beginning to answer any particular questions but as I reflect at the end of the block I realized I focused on a number of concepts: knowledge sharing and how it impacts teaching, datafication of learning platforms and how they impact teaching and finally the issues of data privacy and how it affects student data management.

In my first visualization, I focused on the concept of knowledge sharing and how that data in the hand of a teacher can influence or impact her teaching. I realized from my visualization that there are elements of teaching which are otherwise overlooked that could greatly impact teaching and learning. In the visualization, I decided to track student engagement not just focusing on performance and engagements on digital platforms but also explore the social and interpersonal aspects of learning and teaching (Williamson et al. 2020). This social and interpersonal relationship-based aspect of student learning can provoke great reforms in education if properly explored and harnessed. This also showed the limitation of most digital technologies for education as they focus on only quantified elements for learning and neglect an aspect that can give more insight about students and foster more efficient personalized learning (Tsai et al. 2019).

In the second week, I decided to explore further the concept of platformization because it has become a dominant element of teaching and learning. This is especially because of the explosive growth of online education over the past years (Van Dijck, Poell and De Waal, 2018). The growing debate on teachers’ willingness to use digital tools and technologies has not been a hindrance for hundreds of institutions requiring their faculty to make use of data dashboards provided by these tools to inform their teaching despite the fact that most teachers and institutions have still not been able to answer the question of how data-driven dashboards improve the teaching or learning process  (Brown, 2020). 

Therefore,  for teachers to properly utilize and benefit from teaching dashboards, there must be an awareness and understanding of the data being processed in order to properly interpret the results being communicated. This will put teachers in a better place to effectively and efficiently use these technological tools (Brown, 2020). In addition to the technical knowledge provided to boost faculty literacy development, a different literacy module has to be adapted to manage and preserve data because even social media platforms are now venturing into the educational space and leveraging student data for profit generation (Van Dijck, Poell and De Waal, 2018). 

The invasion of social media and other digital platforms in the educational space with the aim of using student data for monetary gains led me to produce my final visualization for the block. Learning institutions are to be conscious that they house a lot of sensitive data about learners that if not properly managed can be used to negatively impact individuals. The use of digital platforms is meant to improve the learning system and not have teachers focusing on dashboards instead of classroom activities that might give more insight into student learning (Van Dijck, Poell and De Waal, 2018)


Brown, M., 2020. Seeing students at scale: how faculty in large lecture courses act upon learning analytics dashboard data. Teaching in Higher Education, 25(4), pp.384-400.

Raffaghelli, J. and Stewart, B., 2020. Centering complexity in ‘educators’ data literacy’ to support future practices in faculty development: a systematic review of the literature. Teaching in Higher Education, 25(4), pp.435-455.

Sarikakis, K. and Winter, L., 2017. Social Media Users’ Legal Consciousness About Privacy. Social Media + Society, 3(1), p.205630511769532.

Tsai, Y., Perrotta, C. and Gašević, D., 2019. Empowering learners with personalised learning approaches? Agency, equity and transparency in the context of learning analytics. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 45(4), pp.554-567.

Van Dijck, J., Poell, T. and De Waal, M., 2018. The Platform Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press USA – OSO.

Williamson, B., Bayne, S. and Shay, S., 2020. The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives. Teaching in Higher Education, 25(4), pp.351-365.

One reply on “End of block 2: Teaching with Data”

Great to see how your engagement with the data visualization tasks and the course readings has begun to challenge your thinking. It would be interesting to think further about the similarities between education and the wider social media and platforms industry, and your attention to the van Dijck et al book is a great resource for this. A key part of their argument is that as platforms enter education, they bring with them different values, such as the efficient development of workplace skills, which might displace other educational values, such as the development of knowledgeable and critical citizens. They also change education from a public or common good, built on principles of enriching society, to a private, individualized transaction that enriches the platform owner at the expense of the individual consumer. Are there ways you might modify your own educational practices in light of these reflections?

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